18β-Glycyrrhetinic acid acts through hepatocyte nuclear factor 4 alpha to modulate lipid and carbohydrate metabolism.
Pharmacol Res. 2020 Apr 28 ;157:104840. Epub 2020 Apr 28. PMID: 32353589
Hepatocyte nuclear factor 4 alpha (HNF4α) regulates the expression of essential genes involved in very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) homeostasis and gluconeogenesis. 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid (GA) is an active ingredient of Glycyrrhiza uralensis an herbal medicine used for treating liver aliments. In this study, we established that GAfunctions as a partial antagonist of HNF4α through HNF4α-driven reporter luciferase assay and co-immunoprecipitation experiments with co-activator PGC1α. By virtual docking and site-directed mutagenesis analysis, we confirmed that serine 190 and arginine 235 of HNF4α are both essential for GA to exert its antagonistic action on HNF4α. Importantly, GA suppressed the expression of HNF4α target genes such as apolipoprotein B (ApoB), microsomal triglyceride transfer protein (MTP) and phospholipase AG12B (PLA2G12B) modulating hepatic VLDL secretion in mice fed on a high fat diet. In addition, GA also suppressed gluconeogenesis and ameliorated glucose intolerance via down-regulating the expression of HNF4α target genes glucose-6-phosphatase (G6pc) and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (Pepck). Furthermore, GA significantly lowered blood glucose and improved insulin resistance in db/db mice. In all, we established that GA acts as a partial HNF4α antagonist modulating lipid and carbohydrate metabolism.